Aston Martin recently invited us to take a closer look at their latest entry into the rapidly expanding high luxury sports car segment, the all new four door Rapide. It’s not every day that a part of the Frankfurt Motor Show comes to you, and that is the exact feeling that the English coachbuilder is hoping their clientele experience when they come to take a look at it. The car being shown to us happens to be the actual concept car from Frankfurt, and the preproduction Rapide was making its sixth stop on its cross country tour just up the road from us in Palm Beach. Aston’s hope is that by showing potential customers the car in person, they will be compelled to fill out one of the detailed order forms for the production version.
From the sound of things they were doing quite well, collecting almost 50 orders from the South Florida market and over 150 on the tour so far, with 1800 Rapides being produced for worldwide consumption and only around 500 making their way into the U.S., a large chunk of the limited production hand built $200,000 four door super cars have already been spoken for. The car in front of us was essentially fully finished stretched DB9, while the 2010 model will feature a bespoke chassis with the familiar 6.0 Liter 470 HP V12 up front and six speed semi automatic transaxle out back, but the entire underpinnings are going to be unique, which happens to be a big selling point for Aston.
Just glancing at the Rapide’s order form gives you an idea of the extent that Aston Martin is willing to go to in order to tailor their new four door to their pickiest of customer’s demands. As far as paint and upholstery are concerned every available option was on display in West Palm and aside from the standard options, the coach builder will match any color you can deliver. However Aston’s attention to detail even surprised us when they pulled out the leather case containing every one of the Rapide’s interior stitching options, available in both fine and coarse.
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There were a few interesting trends that Aston Martin’s representatives were noticing here in South Florida, the first being the amount of super car shoppers who brought along a baby seat. As Aston Martin owners progress into the latter stages of life they seem to have the urge to take their grandkids with them, something that would be frowned upon in a DBS Volante, so with an extra pair of doors comes a back seat that can safely transport a small child. Another factor that we just couldn’t wrap our minds around were the number of Aston owners who were looking for a winter car for their winter home. After all if you can afford one, why not pick up another, most of these individuals have more money then they know what to do with and they were actually filling out order forms.
Our up close look at the new Aston Martin Rapide allowed us to pick up on a few of the super car’s more subtle details. The car’s xenon headlamps are sharper in order to account for the stretched wheel base, the much more angular design helps to keep the same visual proportions that you would find in the standard vehicle. The Rapide’s nose is a bit taller than the traditional DB9 and doesn’t hang as low, perhaps another one of Mareck Reichman’s proportion keeping strategies. Aston Martin is well known for their signature swan doors that open up as well as out, well on the Rapide the fronts open a full 90 degrees to expose exquisite touches like LED ambient lighting, full grain leather upholstery, walnut wood fascia trim, an iridium silver and graphite center console with a first ever integrated PDA holder and not to mention a top of the line 1000 Watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSound audio system. Stepping back outside we notice that the B pillar is raked back and the glass that covers it blend into the leaned back black post with making the profile look much cleaner and the glass look like one continuous pane. Despite the look of the rear section, the Rapide retains the classic Aston Martin hatchback and polished bar that connects the taillamps to distinguish this four door as being truly an Aston Martin.
However it is the back seat where the Rapide sets itself apart from other super cars, stepping inside is like climbing aboard a corporate jet, complete with the creature comforts and finishes that you would expect from Aston Martin and apparently ease of getting in and out of the Rapide’s back seat is no high on shopper’s lists because they don’t plan on anybody driving aside from themselves. However if the Rapide’s owner did, they would experience the car’s cocooning effect, a snug fitting comfortable environment that is expectedly much more relaxed and reassuring at the Rapide’s 188 MPH top speed as opposed to being tossed around in a more traditional back seat, much like the competition. The TVs look exquisite and the rest of the high end interior is absolutely top notch.
The Rapide rides on a set of 20 inch alloy wheels wrapped in very special Bridgestone Potenza tires that help reduce NVH while maintaining maximum grip specifically designed for the Rapide to work with Aston’s Adaptive Dampening System in order to provide a more luxurious performance driving experience. While at the same time the car’s nearly 50/50 weight distribution and 0 to 60 MPH time of 5.1 seconds ensure that the Rapide has the ability to outrun other sports cars.
After having a look inside the Rapide’s boot and listing all the new car’s competitors, like the original super sports sedan Maseratti Quatroporte and four door coupe Mercedes CLS, as well as the upcoming Audi A7, Bugatti Galibier and Lamborghini Estoque; we couldn’t help but think up the perfect Top Gear Challenge. A four door GT car shootout at the Nurburgring with Porsche’s Panamera taking on the Aston Martin Rapide both complete with four passengers and a trunk full of luggage. With Aston’s newest R&D Center located right next door to the ‘Ring we don’t expect that they would have any problem with the challenge, and although the prototypes have been around the green hell once or twice before we were told to wait until sometime in February or March of 2010 for the production version to be making a few timed runs around the Nordschleife.